Living in Indonesia, country with largest Muslim population in the world, I’ve been a Muslim all my life. I automatically become a Muslim because my parents are Muslim. I didn’t walk thru process of ‘searching’. I accept Islam they way it is. And I didn’t questioned it. The 5 times praying ritual started become a soul-less routine. Because that’s what you’ve been told to do since you were a kid. You didn’t seek for it but you get feed. Sometimes you didn’t know what you eat, so you just chew, just because everybody else eating it.
Then come one moment in my life, when I just felt that I’m ready to go to the Holy Land of Makkah, visiting Ka’bah, performing Umrah (Lesser Pilgrimage). People said it’s the personal ‘calling’ from God.
This is the same kind of feeling when I put hijab for the first time in year 2000. It was my first year of college, where I’m so ready to ‘have fun go mad’ with my buddies, yet the unexplainable feeling told me to wear hijab and behave. And that’s it.
And proclaim to mankind the Hajj (pilgrimage). They will come to you on foot and on every lean camel, they will come from every deep and distant (wide) mountain highway (to perform Hajj). Quran Surat Al-Ĥaj 22:27
This is my first time to Arab. I went there with a group of people in a tour. I don’t have any idea of what will happen, I decide to just go with it.
Our first stop was in Medina. The Prophet’s mosque: Nabawi, looks very beautiful, grand and elegant. Some girls stopping at the gate, rubbing the golden carving, crying, say salaam to the Prophet Muhamad (PBUH) and mumble some prayers.
To enter the mosque, I must get my bag checked for any camera or mobile phones with camera in it. Of course, I still bring all of it in my bag, and the officer lady in blacks won’t let me enter the mosque. I walked back to my hotel to put my camera and back to the mosque, realizing that I just lost my roomates, Siti & Dani. Now, I’m alone in a huge mosque, on my first day in Medina. I started to kind of worried. And like an answer, a smiley Indonesian lady sit right beside me. She stayed in the same hotel with me. And she share her valuable experiences while she was in Makkah. Alhamdulillah, indeed I’ve meant to meet her.
And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge. QS Surat Ar-Rūm 30:22
My mom told me that I would see Muslims all over the world. All with their different skin colors and cultures that might amazed me. A lot of new things also would surprised me. But I must not think bad about them, because it is believed something could happen to me as a warning. My mom really scared me off that when I saw a dark skin lady with moustache, I said in my heart, “Oh my God, she looks like a man!” And then I immediately said, “Astaghfirullahaladzim, please forget that I ever said that ya Allah!” Hehe. I become more aware of what I’m thinking of. I think I already a positive thinker, but turned out I still make some unneccessary comments inside. This is really good exercise of self-reminder.
Talking about Nabawi mosque won’t complete without mentioning Ar-Raudah. This is an area in the heart of the mosque which extends from The Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) tomb to his pulpit. It’s like a little piece of heaven, and if you pray there and ask for anything, Insha Allah your wish is granted. Women have special schedules to enter Raudah. My group went there at night around 11 pm. We’re among the last groups. People said it’s difficult to pray there because it’s packed, yes it was packed, but Alhamdulillah I manage to pray longer. I pray for myself first, hope God have mercy and forgive me, then on to the more ‘world kind of wishes’. Then I pray for my family and friends. I can’t help my tears in this place. I felt so close with my Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). This is the place where he used to walk, pray, and I missed him so much.
I said to my mom, that I won’t shop a single thing on my Umrah journey. Indonesian are well known to be overshopper and I don’t want to be in the same list. Until I heard the sellers said, “Khamsa Riyal. 5 Riyal!” And I was like, “What?! That cute scarfs only 5 Riyal??” And the rest is history :))
The flow of performing Umrah is more and less like this: you wear Ihram clothes (wear two garments of unsown white cloth for men) from the Miqat (stated places where you say your intention to perform Umrah), Perform tawaf (circling the Ka’bah, inside Masjidil Haram, 7 times), perform Sa‘y (walking from Safa – Marwah 7 times) and then shaving or shortening your hair.
When I walk from Hotel to perform Umrah to Masjidil Haram, I’m drowned in a lot of thoughts. I just can’t wait to see Ka’bah. I see a lot of Ka’bah still pictures back home, and now I finally would see it myself. I walk slowly, and I can see Ka’bah appear. Formed as a simple but attractive black cube, it’s the center of moslem’s prayer around the world. I stop for a moment. My tears just fall down. Mixed of unexplainable feelings. I’ve been seeing this moment in my dreams. The moment when I see Ka’bah for the first time. It’s a dream come true.
I’ve been trying to understand the philosophy of Tawaf (Circumambulation). Circumambulation means to go round something, orbiting. When I love someone, I’d orbiting around him as an expression of love, and a prove that I’m ready to sacrifice everything for my beloved. I’d be ready if he needs me. And that’s how I understand Tawaf. Symbolic way to Show that I love and detached everything just to be around Allah.
Walking for Sa’y from Safa – Marwah 7 times really hurts my (lazy) feet (3.15 km total). I can’t imagine how Siti Hajar running in the exact place, without air conditioning and all the facilities I have right now, to look for water for her boy Ishmael. This is where ZamZam water show up on the spot where Ishmael kick his feet and it never dried ever since.
I felt a sense of relieved after I get my hair cut. That means I’m already finished performing umrah and I can ‘release’ my Ihram state. Alhamdulillah.
For 9 days, I’ve been focusing and dedicating myself to God. Praying in the mosque & reciting Quran, are the only activities. And a lot of people have the same thoughts. Masjidil Haram always packed with people. If we’re late coming to the mosque, we must struggle to find a place to sit. It’s happening a lot of times that I even dream of wade through each other in the mosque. What a weird dream :))
People asked if I get some sort of miracles that often happened there. Well, one of the best thing that happened was, when my newly born wisdom tooth kicking thru my gum, I felt excruciating pain that it’s hard to even open my mouth, let alone eating. All my body felt sick and feverish. Since I can’t eat tablets, I refused to go to the pharmacy :)) Then I pray to Allah to cure me, and drink ZamZam water with the intention to cure it. The pain is magically disappear the next morning!
Alhamdulillah, I finished reading tafseer of the whole Quran when I was there. I could also see places mentioned in Al-Quran, such as Jabal Uhud and many more. I felt like I found myself once again and I finally can relate more to what I’ve read on Quran, and found soul in my prayers. This get me a whole new idea to learn Arabic especially for Quran study.
Hope I can come back again soon to Makkah, as I haven’t been able to say good bye to Ka’bah, and that time I wish I could go with my life partner. Amin